Moonraker Tidbits

We’ve actually covered much of the Moonraker novel already here. There are few references and locations, particularly around the Dover area that are worthy of mention that haven’t been posted yet. I’m going to wrap several of them up into one post here:

Chilham Castle

On his way to report in on his new assignment with Sir Hugo Drax, Bond is motoring along.

Well, thought Bond, accelerating down the straight stretch of road past Chilham Castle, he could see that picture too, and if he was going to work with the man, he must adjust himself to the heroic version.

There has been a castle on this site for at least eight centuries, perhaps much longer.

chilham-castle

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Dover “Cardboard” Castle

On that same journey, he sees another historical landmark.

Bond concentrated on his driving as he coasted down into Dover. He kept left and was soon climbing out of the town again past the wonderful cardboard castle.

Dover Castle, known as The Key To England has been a fortress, stronghold and lookout for England for 20 centuries. It has the longest recorded history of any major castle in Britain Calling it cardboard is a reference to its color.

Dover_Castle

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Swingate Radar Station

After Bond passes Dover Castle he comes up to the next place of note.

The visibility was bad and he switched on his lights as he motored slowly along the coast-road, the ruby-spangled masts of the Swingate radar station rising like petrified Roman candles on his right.

Known as Swingate Chain Home Radar Station, this facility was one of five radar stations built just prior to World War II to provide early warning of enemy aircraft raids.

swingate

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Royal Marine Garrison’s Firing Range

When Bond and Gala are returning from the cliff ordeal, they pass by here on the way back to Drax’s house.

They scrambled down a steep cliff-path to the beach and turned to the right beside the deserted small-arms range of the Royal Marine Garrison at Deal.

Also known as the Kingsdown range, this former Marines training ground and rifle range was abandoned even by the time Fleming was writing Moonraker.

kingsdown-rifle-range

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World Without Want

It’s been speculated that this establishment, which is where poor Major Talon met his end, and where James Bond followed up at for a drink and chat with the proprietor, was based on The Swingate Inn, which is still there.

Swingate-Inn-01

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The Granville, St Margaret’s Bay

After James Bond and Gala Brand regain their wits after having a cliff face pushed down on them, they decide on a plan – head to the Granville for further clean up and recovery, before heading back to Drax’s house.

They both felt keyed up and in high spirits. A hot bath and an hour’s rest at the accommodating Granville had been followed by two stiff brandies-and-sodas for Gala and three for Bond followed by delicious fried soles and Welsh rarebits and coffee.

The Granville was the Granville Hotel, a long-time landmark in St Margaret’s which was demolished in 1996.

These images come from the amazing St Margaret’s Village Archive:

granville-hotel

granville-hotel-2

granville-hotel-3

Reference also made to the South Foreland Lighthouse in the distance.

White Cliffs of Dover

Much of the action in Moonraker takes place in the county of Kent, around the town of Dover, in the South-East corner of England.

Sir Hugo Drax’s rocket base on is on the edge of the cliffs between Dover and Deal. The cliffs of course, are the famous White Cliffs of Dover.

White Cliffs

white_cliffs_of_dover_cover_1
(Note, as mentioned by commenter below, this image is not actually the White Cliffs of Dover, but from 75 miles away.)

During their afternoon together, James Bond and Gala Brand head down to the bottom of cliffs.

To their left the carpet of green turf, bright with small wildflowers, sloped gradually down to the long pebble beaches of Walmer and Deal, which curved off towards Sandwich and the Bay.

cliff-path

They walked along in Silence until they came to the two-mile stretch of shingle that runs at low tide beneath the towering white cliffs of St. Margaret’s Bay.

walmer-beach

While there, a cliff face falls on them.

cliff-fall

It is worth noting that at the time in which he wrote Moonraker Ian Fleming owned a house at the end of St Margaret’s Bay called White Cliffs. Thus, he was intimately familiar with all the locales described in the story.

Ian Fleming's Beach "Cottage" on St Margaret's Bay
Ian Fleming’s Beach “Cottage” on St Margaret’s Bay

Here is a very cool post with some additional photos and information.

Leeds Castle

In Moonraker, while in pursuit of Sir Hugo Drax and his Mercedes Type 300 S, James Bond is in his Bentley on the A20 and they pass by Leeds Castle.

Called “The Loveliest Castle In the World, Leeds Castle has been around in some form since 1119.

leeds-castle

leeds-castle-2

He was touching ninety-five on the straight just before the entrance to Leeds Castle when great lights were suddenly switched on behind him and a four-tone windhorn sounded its impudent ‘pom-pim-pom-pam’ almost in his ear.

Ashford Rd (A20) outside Leeds Castle. Note straightaway where Bond hit 95 and the S-Bend where he watched the Alfa grow through.
Ashford Rd (A20) outside Leeds Castle. Note straightaway where Bond hit 95 and the S-Bend where he watched the Alfa grow through.

He watched affectionately as the Alfa wagged its tail in the S-bend abreast of Leeds Castle and then howled off on the long wide road towards the distant Charing-fork.

As you can see in the map above, the A20 does have a straightaway near the entrance and an S-bend further on down, just as described by Fleming.

Thomas Wyatt Hotel

The day before the Moonraker launch, Sir Hugo Drax takes Gala Brand and Krebs into London for some last-minute preparations. On the way, Miss Brand is determined to get a look at Sir Hugo’s notebook which he keeps in his pocket to check for herself the figures that he enters into it each day.

She manages to pick the notebook from Drax’s hip pocket, and get it into her coat. Now she needs him to stop the car so she can get out and take a look at it.

A garage would be dangerous. He might decide to fill up with petrol. And perhaps he also carried his money in his hip-pocket. But was there an hotel? Yes, she remembered, the Thomas Wyatt just outside Maidstone. And it had no petrol pumps. She started to fidget slightly. She pulled the coat back on to her lap. She cleared her throat.

The Thomas Wyatt hotel is still there, though now the part which was the inn back then is now a pub, with a Premier Inn attached to it.

thomas-wyatt-hotel-2

The car swerved up to the front of the inn and stopped with a jerk. “Hurry up. Hurry up,” said Drax as Gala, leaving the door of the car open, sped obediently across the gravel, her coat with its precious secret held tightly in front of her body.

thomas-wyatt-hotel

Sir Thomas Wyatt was a fairly prominent poet and rebel of the middle ages.